Web users blase about breakthroughs
The response by the online community was lukewarm yesterday as China celebrated grand achievements in both space and beneath the sea on the same day, with bitter web users using microblog accounts to criticise the government for favouring technological advancements over improving people's lives.
Beijing-based political analyst Hu Xingdou said the two achievements were obviously synchronised, with the missions timed to occur in the lead-up to this autumn's National People's Congress and the 91st anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
'We are able to send Chinese to outer space, yet we do not allow our peasants to live in cities with equal rights and access to public services; it's ironic,' Hu said. 'Without first solving China's deep-seated institutional problems, it will be just like the former USSR, which put the first man in space, but ended up seeing its own red flag fall to the ground.
'China should be able to explore space and dive deep into the ocean, but mostly it should prioritise efforts in political reform.'
That sentiment was widely seen online, with some people noting that the technological achievements came decades after they were accomplished by the United States. Others, however, still praised the efforts.
One with the user name Yanyuhmily said China had made history by diving to 7,020 metres and completing the manual docking of a spacecraft to an orbiting lab module, both on the same day.
'It can't be a coincidence for the two achievements to fall on the same day. This is an announcement to the world that today's China will no longer hide in the dark.'
But others pointed to lingering problems such as government corruption and territorial disputes.
'What's the point of all this?,' asked a web user known as Huopindang. 'With no friends, we can't fight back even when small countries invade us. How many corrupt officials have had their pockets filled by these space and deep-sea missions?'
Many people called on the government to instead focus more on 'matters happening on earth', such as stabilising domestic inflation, stepping up food safety and protecting the environment.
'It looks like the efforts to address these problems are going to be tougher than rocket science,' said a man calling himself David Hudawei.